Starting a new business can be an exciting but daunting task, especially if you’re an entrepreneur who has tried out multiple business ideas but hasn’t yet figured out the perfect one for your new venture.
However, you’re not alone in this experience. In fact, many startup founders go through several failed products before finding success. One of the best ways to avoid falling into this trap is to launch an MVP (minimum viable product) that validates your startup idea before you put all of your time and energy into it. By doing so, you’ll be able to test your product or service in the market, get valuable feedback from customers, and make any necessary adjustments before investing too much time and resources into the project. There are countless ways to launch a business MVP, but let’s go over the most important steps and what has worked for successful entrepreneurs.
Let the idea find you, instead of forcing an idea
Many startup founders (and I’ve also made this mistake) approach finding the right startup idea the wrong way: they start from a blank slate and try to come up with ideas that people may possibly find cool. However, this is actually a backwards approach. Instead of trying to find a startup idea, you should instead look for problems that you might be having or problems that others are experiencing. By focusing on solving problems, you’ll be able to create a product or service that addresses a real need in the market, making it more likely to succeed. You can identify problems by doing market research, talking to potential customers, or looking for gaps in the market.
Test things out on a small scale before investing your time
This point will save you hundreds (if not thousands) of hours, and the concept is also pretty simple: before investing a lot of time into a project, create a mini-version of your business idea and see if people are willing to pay for it. Also, be sure to get a few upfront payments before investing too much money as well. It’s easy for someone to say they might buy your product after it’s launched. These people may even have the best intentions and cheer you on while you’re building your product, but their enthusiasm can often be misleading. People want to be nice and encouraging, but it’s important to know that this isn’t the same as handing over their payment details. So, create a mini-version of your product—as minimal as possible—and see how the market reacts to it (namely, are people willing to pay for your product?).
Use live chat on your website to identify customer needs
As you’re testing your product idea, be approachable to visitors by adding live chat to your website. Live chat can provide a forum where your visitors can feel comfortable asking more about the product and whether it has certain features they are looking for. Also, you’ll be able to identify customer objections and challenges more easily. For example, if you get a lot of people asking about a particular feature, this could be a sign that it’s necessary to add this feature. However, be careful not to act on requests too quickly until you notice a clear pattern.
Don’t stress too much about pricing in the early days
Many entrepreneurs will spend hours obsessing over pricing. In the early stages of your startup, don’t worry too much about finding the perfect price point. At this stage, it’s more important to determine whether or not people will even pay for your product at all.
In the beginning, start with a reasonable price to test out the market. Later, you can always go back and make adjustments. Just remember not to price your product too low, as that could be a red flag to customers. If anything, we founders have the tendency to undervalue our products.
Don’t let research and analysis paralysis hold you back from launching your MVP. Instead, launch your product and be prepared to learn as you go. This approach can help you gather valuable feedback from your customers, which you can use to improve your product. Remember, objections are not necessarily a bad thing. They can be a sign that your customers are engaged and invested in your product.
It’s important to be flexible and open to change as you develop and refine your product. Don’t get too attached to certain features or ideas that may not work in the long run. Instead, be open to feedback and be willing to make changes to your product based on what your customers are telling you.
One way to make your company more approachable is to add an “about” page to your website. Customers want to know who they are buying from, and this can help build trust and credibility. By sharing information about your team, your mission, and your values, you can create a more personal connection with your customers.
Timing is key wait for product/market fit before investing in paid marketing
It can be tempting to jump the gun and start investing in paid marketing or advertising right away, but doing so before you’ve reached product/market fit can be a costly mistake. Before spending money on marketing, it’s important to have conversations with your target customers and tweak your product based on their feedback. This will help you identify your audience and what kind of messaging resonates with them.
Once you have a healthy number of paying customers and your website conversion rate is decent, you can start focusing on paid marketing. That way, you can be sure that your business is in a healthy place and can convert a reasonable number of visitors coming from paid traffic sources.
Focus on the metrics that matter
In the age of big data, it’s easy to get lost in the world of “vanity metrics” that don’t really move the needle. While press mentions or social media likes may feel good, it’s important to pay attention to the metrics that really matter and will drive growth for your business. The most important metrics will vary from business to business, but some common ones might include conversion rate, churn rate, and monthly revenue growth. Keep track of the metrics that have the biggest impact on your business and update them regularly. This will help you make data-driven decisions and identify areas for improvement.
Create a scalable process
Once you’ve acquired your first few paying customers, it’s important to create a repeatable process that can be scaled as your business grows. Document the processes that led to your initial success and focus on the most efficient channels for acquiring customers. For example, if your blog was a successful source of customer acquisition, find ways to create more high-quality content or outsource the work to replicate the process. Look for ways to automate certain steps of your process to save time and resources in the long run.
Design a routine that works for you
As an entrepreneur, you have the flexibility to design a work routine that suits your needs and preferences. Experiment with different schedules and work styles until you find what works best for you. Maybe you prefer to work long hours for a few days and then take a break, or maybe you like to take a vacation after hitting a revenue milestone. As your own boss, you have the freedom to manage your time in a way that maximizes your productivity and well-being. Embrace this creative flexibility and enjoy the benefits of being an entrepreneur.
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